We might look young, but actually we’re fifty years old! Lots of things about our society have changed in that period, and we’ve obviously had to move with the times – but our basic mission hasn’t changed. We’re as focussed on young people’s mental health and wellbeing today as we were when we first opened our doors in 1965.
— To support young people to empower and intellectually defend themselves through the provision of mental health services and development work.
— To promote positive mental health and the resilience of all young people.
— To challenge the wider social and structural inequalities that lead to poorer mental health and life chances.
— We believe all young people, irrespective of their social, economic and/or cultural background, have the right to accessible, free, meaningful, therapeutic support.
— We believe in the value of this support socially and politically and for the need to advocate for its provision and for the mental health and well-being of children and young people more generally.
— We believe young people are best placed to articulate their wants and needs from our services and that they should participate in all areas of our work.
— We believe young people have a right to be heard in wider society and that much of what they experience emotionally and psychologically as individuals, they have a shared political interest in challenging collectively.
OTR opened its doors in 1965 and can justifiably claim to be one of the oldest established young people's counselling services in the country.
The Year was 1965
OTR began life a combined initiative between the Bristol Association of Youth Clubs and Bristol Marriage and Family Guidance Council.
In the course of their work in youth clubs and schools, both organisations were aware of the considerable numbers of young people for whom counselling would be appropriate. In the absence of a service that was free, confidential, and targeted specifically at young people, Off the Record (Bristol) was born.
The Year was 1975
In 1975 we moved away from the Marriage Guidance Council in Clifton, and into dedicated premises on Pipe Lane, opposite Colston Hall.
The Year was 1981
In January 1981 we moved into our current base at the foot of St Michael's Hill, in the Kingsdown area of the city.
The Year was 1996
The service developed and steadily evolved until the Summer of 1996, when despite the best efforts of staff, volunteers and trustees, OTR closed for several months due to a lack of funding. Thanks to the campaigning efforts of a small number of trustees and volunteers, we re-opened six months later.
As we hit fifty, OTR has never been in better shape. Over 2000 young people access us for support each year, and we've a wide range of services and projects delivered from a variety of venues across Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
Lots of things have changed; the issues young people bring, the funders, the city! Fundamentally though we're still offering local young people the same thing - free, confidential, support for young people aged 11-25 that doesn't rely on an adult referral.